Able-bodied people live alongside others who have been severely disabled by an accident
The association Simon de Cyrène is developing houses where able-bodied people live alongside others who have been severely disabled by an accident
With advances in medicine, 10,000 people per year now survive serious road accidents, sports injuries and strokes but then have to live with permanent disabilities. These adults are at risk of losing their jobs and friends and experiencing social exclusion, a loss of future prospects and loneliness. Confronted suddenly with a disability, each one asks a powerful and painful question, "What meaning can I give to my life now?”
Living at home is often considered essential to successful integration into society, but since disabilities can disrupt people’s social lives, living alone can be a source of solitude and social exclusion.
The association creates shared houses for people with disabilities, healthy volunteers and assistants. The idea is for the disabled residents to feel at home and live together as autonomously as possible, depending on the nature of their disabilities. The home is designed so that each person has his or her own space. Community life is simple and practical, with studios in apartments and apartments in houses.
Every day is punctuated by meals and meetings where specific issues about living together are addressed, such as the activities of the week and upcoming projects. Each person’s contribution to communal life (preparing meals, helping with decoration, washing dishes, etc.) depends on their abilities and personal qualities (friendliness, complicity, sense of humor, etc.).
The houses contribute to neighborhood life by hosting community dinners, artists' studios, film clubs and parties that allow residents to welcome isolated people into their entourage. The shared Simon de Cyrène houses cultivate fraternal, open, realistic and sympathetic relationships.
People who have become disabled express a desire to find meaning in their lives through genuine relationships. After an accident, their circle of friends tends to diminishes and the disability disrupts their social lives. I often quote Fabienne: "Too often, the only people I meet are the health professionals who assist me. Thank God they are there! But I suffer from loneliness. I want to meet people and have real friendships.”
Laurent Cherisey, Director
In 2009, the association opened its first site: four centers in a building with a large garden in the center of Vanves, near Paris. Of the 70 residents, half have disabilities and have helped develop the communal lifestyle that is the Simon de Cyrène model.
Several new sites are planned in the coming years, in Angers, Rungis, Ile-de-Ré, Nantes, Marseille, Dijon, Lille and Bordeaux. In total, 20 houses could accommodate 300 new residents.
The Bettencourt Schueller Foundation supports the growth of Simon de Cyrène, which it has been assisting since the late 2000s.